Here is a photograph of four of Mr Hogarth’s “Young Gentlemen” preparing to resume work, painting in the ships name and port of registry on the stern, all identification having been painted over during the war years.
These are the four apprentices who took part in ‘Operation Crow’ about a year later during the same voyage, as related in my old sailors yarn ‘Stone the Crows” published in the April 2014 issue of Sea Breezes. They are, from left to right; Jimmy Laughland, Harry Kennan (Senior App), Robert Fullarton and Joe McKendrick. The Deck Serang (bosun) Sherazul Huq and one of his men are on deck looking down to see what was going on.
Jimmy, just joined for his first trip, should not have been on an overside stage 20 ft above the water and he certainly should not have been sitting outside of the stage rope. When this photo was taken, a few months after the end of the war, the ship was still painted overall in dirty, matt, grey and now, for the first time, the Baron Herries was to be painted in Hogarth’s colours.
As there were no painters of the proper trade available, we apprentices were given the job of finding where Baron Herries and Ardrossan had been cut into the shell plating then wash the area and paint a black rectangle ready for the lettering. Next day we had to follow the faint chisel marks and line out the letters in white, using a small brush, then filling them in. We considered this to be a nice, clean, interesting job. One which when out of sight we could get on with in our own time. When actually working overside, one of us would be “stand-by” on deck to tend the stage ropes and see that nobody else touched them, to lower the paint pots and any other gear as required and to tell us when it was time to “knock off”. He would have a lifebuoy close at hand ready to throw close to, but not at anyone of us who had the misfortune to fall into the dock. That lifebuoy and the rope ladder going down past the stage to the water were the only, self-organised, safety measures taken.
How did I come to be standing on that stage?
When I was in the City Line office asking to be taken on as a Cadet with no pre-sea training, their Superintendent, rather rudely, requested me to remove myself from his office. On the way out, an aged clerk took me aside. “Laddie” he said with typical Glasgow humour, “Try Hogarths, St Vincent Street. They’ll take you on as long as you are still warm and can stand up” and he was dead right.
At Hogarth’s office nobody asked if I could swim, obviously a useful skill when working overside. In fact they didn’t ask very much at all. No questions about what work I had done or where I lived. They didn’t want to know about my schooling or what games I played. As long as I could pass the Shipping Office medical and eyesight tests and was issued with an Identity Card and a Discharge Book they were “pleased” to offer me a four years apprenticeship in order to keep up their number of apprentices and man their ships. It was a bit like joining the French Foreign Legion. No questions asked about my past, they just wanted to know if I was physically fit to work for them for the next four years.
It was up to me if I was to learn anything during that time towards obtaining a Second Mates Certificate. That was none of their business. With Hogarths, there was no standard working gear. We wore any old clothes that we could find, it was still the days of clothes rationing. As you can see they got rather dirty and, with no laundry facilities onboard, were occasionally scrubbed on a hatch top using hard soap and a bucket of hot water. That didn’t make them very clean but it was the best we could do.
You can also see that the three of us, standing, who had been with Hogarths for some time, are all slim and fit looking. No doubt as a result of our carefully managed shipboard diet and plenty of outdoor exercise. Of the four on the stage, three eventually held F G Masters Certificates, but I was the only one who remained at sea and, in due time, sailed a Master on vessels of the Clan Line fleet.
CAPTAIN ROBERT FULLARTON
4 Ewenfield Avenue
Ayr, Scotland, KA7 2QQ